Barbara, Like Sadie, I feel like an ambassador for open adoption. My husband Jeff was adopted in 1963 and we adopted a domestic newborn in…...
Adoption Blog: Familia Means Family
We Did Not Choose Transracial Adoption
Most adoptive families encounter intrusive questions that biological families don't typically have to deal with. My husband, my children, and I belong to three different races, and our family is always being asked how we came to be together. I have yet to understand why that seems to matter to strangers on the street. I think that many people have a need to "figure out" any situation that looks strange to them.
This need to categorize our family also appears to include understanding why we chose to adopt children of a different race. We have been asked all kind of questions on the subject. We've been asked if we were trying to take a social stand against racism. We've been asked if we preferred black children to white or Hispanic children. We've been asked if we could not "get one" who "looked like you." We've been asked if we thought we would wait less time if we chose a child of color. We've even been asked if our children were "cheaper," which always bothers me.
The truth is we did not choose to adopt a child of color. We simply chose to adopt a child. Race and gender were of no concern to us. In fact, when our social worker asked us if we had a preference we looked at her as if she had grown another head. We felt that a child in need of a home is a child in need of a home. We are not heroes, we are not trying to make a political statement. We were not looking for a "deal." We just wanted to be parents.
To be perfectly honest, there are adoption agencies that give people a financial break if they are willing to adopt children of color, but our agency does not; that was one of the reasons we chose it. We also knew that, if we were open to a child of any race, we would probably be matched more quickly and had a higher chance of being called about an African-American or biracial child. At the time, our agency had more African-American children available for adoption than families that were open to adopting them. And so we checked the box: "no preference" and let the chips fall where they would.
I realize and respect the fact that there are people who do specify gender, race, and age. I believe each family must make those decisions for themselves. This is simply our journey through the process of making adoption decisions.
In fairness to the child, however, we knew it was important that we make an educated decision. We would not have brought a baby of another race into our family if we knew that friends and family members would never accept him or her. The primary concern our loved ones held was the risk of raising children who would be confused about their place in the world, not feeling as if they belonged to one race or the other. We understood that concern and we made a commitment to our children and to each other that we would learn about their culture and raise them to understand and appreciate their ethnic background. We would not raise them as if they were just like us, but we would become a multicultural family that lived and moved comfortably in three cultures and two languages.
For us this has meant learning to care for Isabel's hair at home, finding ballet studios and team sport venues with a diverse group of children, seeking to form relationships with people of various races, homeschooling our children to raise them to be bilingual, talking about racial differences, and even finding a church that has a good number of transracial adoptees of all ages. We did not choose to adopt children of color but we were chosen to adopt them, and, because of it, our lives have become richer and fuller.
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